We’ll be breaking down all the major and minor moves for NFL Free Agency with grades and analysis. You can find the comprehensive list of moves and grades here.
Reported deal: Six years/$138,06 million with $55.1 million guaranteed
The biggest deals have come from leverage and Trent Williams’s record deal came from leverage and play to back it up. Williams sat out the 2019 season, worked his way out of a dysfunctional Washington situation, got into a great scheme in San Francisco, and became the highest-paid tackle as he approaches his age-33 season.
When on the field, Williams is easily one of the best tackles in the game. He’s made the Pro Bowl in every season he’s played since 2012. While Pro Bowls aren’t always a great proxy for player quality, Williams has earned it each season. With San Francisco in 2020, he ranked fourth among tackles in Pass Block Win rate, according to ESPN. Even into his early 30’s Williams moves well and is perfectly fit for the Shanahan scheme.
Still, Williams hasn’t played 16 games in a season since 2013 though his two missed games in 2020 came as a mid-season COVID close contact and a meaningless Week 17 game. But that’s something to keep an eye on for a player who will be 35 years old by the time the guarantees in his contract are done. Andrew Whitworth has shown it’s possible to play like a high-end tackle into a player’s late-30’s and Williams is in the perfect spot to replicate that type of longevity.
After Williams’ deal, it was also reported Alex Mack would come to San Francisco. Mack will turn 36 years old in November but has played fewer than 16 games twice in his career (five in 2014 and 14 in 2020). This will be his third stint with Shanahan. The center is a key piece to the Shanahan offensive line with needed movement in both the pass and run game. Mack might not be the dominant center he was earlier in his career, but he has the experience to bring stability to a position the 49ers haven’t been able to have over the past few seasons.